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Border town saw steady trickle depart for America

German immigration influenced Winterswijk

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

WINTERSWIJK, the Netherlands - The high-profile departure for the U.S. by Secession-leader Rev. A.C. Van Raalte and a small band of his followers generally is considered to be a starting point for 19th century Dutch emigration. In recent decades, historians have recognized that Van Raalte did not start this exodus. Credit belongs to emigrants from Winterswijk, a town on the German border. Immigrants from Winterswijk and the 'Achterhoek' region of Gelderland landed in Milwaukee and settled around the Wisconsin port city. The state was also favoured by German immigrants who vastly outnumbered their Dutch neighbours.

According to the Dr. Das Genealogical Collection in Winterswijk's public library, Hendrik Jan Hoenink is the earliest known townsman who departed for the U.S. in August 1840. Nearly four years later, Jan Willem and Willemina Lomans (Oonk) and their family of four pulled up stakes along with Christiaan and Johanna Navis (Linsy).

The following year, when talk about emigration gathered momentum among Secession leaders H.P. Scholte, A.C. Van Raalte and A. Brummelkamp, Winterswijk and surrounding towns already witnessed a steady flow of people leaving for the U.S. In fact, the year 1845 was a banner year of departures from Winterswijk.

Although some emigrants failed to notify civic officials of their impending move, registries are generally considered to be fairly accurate. In 1845, the following families left Winterswijk for America: J.D. Grotenhuis, J.H. Schreurs, H.J. Meerdink, H.J. Slotboom, G.J. Rospas, J.H. Hietkamp, J.H. ten Hulsen, J.H. Warnshuis, W. Willink, J.H. Bargerbosch, M. Willink and J.H. ter Stege.

They were joined by the following single people (seven of these were women): J.D. Willink, G. Greupink, W. te Siepe, D. Konings, H.J. Rooks, H.J. Meenk, B.W. ten Hulsen, G.A. Damkot, B. and J.W. Bolthof, D.W. Lemmenes, E. te Pas and J.G. Woestenes. The Winterswijk lists regularly show people leaving through 1883 while on national scale the flow continued until a Depression-hit U.S.A. tightened its admittance policies.